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back to article Bill Gates's barbed comments pop Google's broadband balloons

Charity mogul Bill Gates couldn't give a flying clippy about Google's broadband balloon PR puffery. The tech titan reserved some barbed words for Google when asked by BusinessWeek what he thought of the Mountain View Chocolate Factory's "loon" attempt to bring internet to developing countries via floating balloons. "When you're …

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Anonymous Coward

Intelligence!

"Gates believes that problems with human health are more fundamental than Google's plan to give the poor access to lolcats, ad-backed Gmail, and grainy YouTube videos of sneezing pandas."

Finally, some one with a bit of sanity and an outlook on the complete picture. He might not be a saint, but for this comment I'll give him an A+.

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Roo
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Boffin

Re: Intelligence!

Blimey, Bill Gate's is still getting blind-sided by the internet again, he really is a dipstick sometimes. Here are a few ways I think the Internet can help with Malaria (some of them have actually been put into practice by people with Malaria in Africa too).

0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet.

1) You could use the internet to ask for medical assistance.

2) You could use the internet to help you find the nearest clinic.

3) You could use the internet to discover how to treat malaria and acquire appropriate treatments.

... And then there's the long game ...

The internet can help people conduct and grow their businesses in remote areas (ie: they can reach foreign markets, investors etc), thereby bringing prosperity to remote areas help improve the quality of life, and incidentally give them more money to spend on healthcare and education.

Sure, curing Malaria would be great, but people still need a roof over their heads, food and fuel while they wait for it. Also, the chances of eradicating Malaria are pretty slim because it evolves. Several treatments have already been rendered ineffective because Malaria has adapted to counter them and unfortunately this process will continue regardless of what Bill thinks is right and wrong.

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Re: Intelligence!

I'd rather be given one of Bill's mosquito nets than access to free wi fi for the afternoon.

And what's the point of knowing where the nearest clinic is if I cant afford to see the physician or buy any medicine.

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Unhappy

"Not a saint"

Nope.

While I sincerely applaud the philanthropic work that BillG has been doing through BMGF for the past 13 years, I still have a bad taste in my mouth about the way he operated for the 25 years before that. Having been personally burned by some of his shady business practices, I'm going to be holding my applause for a while...

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Anonymous Coward

Bill Gates makes the ultimate put down, it will be hard to get up from that thrashing.

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Re: Intelligence!

If it is a Microsoft mosquito net then it'll have huge big holes in it for the mosquitos to enter!

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@ Roo - Re: Intelligence!

You're right.

But not in the places that get hit by Malaria and Dengue. In these regions people couldn't afford a RaspberryPi shared between 4 families, apart from the fact that there's no 'leccy to run it. And most would first have to learn to read as well.

And you're twice right that the people need a roof, [clean water], food and fuel first. And then get some health issues right. And then get an education. And then get an infrastructure. And then, after all that, then get Google.

Or, if you prefer, Bing.

(I'm not a Mega-Microsoft fan, but I think Gates has the priorities 'righter'.)

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FAIL

Re: Intelligence!

I take it you have never been to a Third World country and seen the almost unimaginable poverty a large portion of this earths 7billion plus population live under ?

Clean water - "luxury".

First things first...the internet is a first world luxury, not a necessity.

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Re: mfraz

"If it is a Microsoft mosquito net then it'll have huge big holes in it for the mosquitos to enter!"

Not to worry, MS can patch that bug...

In seriousness though, it does point out that we are better off looking for practical and immediate help at times. Although there are times where long term goals and assistance is needed. Education can help, but I'm not sure if "free internet" is the key there. Mosquito nets do seem to help in the short term. Let's hope the education side of things is done too...

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Re: Intelligence!

@Roo Dude, you've used the wrong icon. Something like this needs either the 'troll' or 'joke' icon.

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Re: Intelligence!

"0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet."

Wait. You can catch Malaria from the internet???!!!!

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IT Angle

Re: Intelligence!

You completely missed the point. Gates is aware of and indeed backs the use of tech for imrpoving quality of life. However, the diseases and awful conditions the people with on a daily basis, will not find salvation on a website, but in medicines and clean drinking water and a safe food supply. I'm all for the remote clinic idea for instance, but it is no use if the people cannot leave their homes due to being ravished by painful and crippling conditions.

0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet. <- and still go out and drink from your only water supply, full of feces and god knows what else.

1) You could use the internet to ask for medical assistance. <-Or approach the medical staff who have medicines with them, backed by international health organisations

2) You could use the internet to help you find the nearest clinic. <- and not get to it because you are too weak, possibly blind and have a family to attend to.

3) You could use the internet to discover how to treat malaria and acquire appropriate treatments. <-what, using paypal accounts full of sand?

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Re: "Not a saint"

Jobs was as big a crook.

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Re: Intelligence!

0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet.

you can catch malaria off of the internet?

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Re: Intelligence!

You can't catch Malaria from the Internet.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Intelligence!

"I'd rather be given one of Bill's mosquito nets than access to free wi fi for the afternoon."

Just be sure not to turn the net inside out though; like on the Simpson's.

"In Africa, anti-malaria mosquito nets go unused by recipients

The treated nets are effective despite design flaws. But to better combat diseases of the poor, we should empower the very people affected to devise their own solutions."

Wouldn't access to the Internet help empower them?

"The premise behind the idea of treated nets is simple. The netting prevents malarial mosquitoes from biting people while they're asleep, and the insecticide kills and repels the insects. World health experts say that using the nets can reduce child mortality in malarial regions by 20%."

A whopping 20%?

"But even as donations roll in and millions of bed nets pile up in warehouses across Africa, aid agencies and non-governmental organizations are quietly grappling with a problem: Data suggest that, at least in some places, nearly half of Africans who have access to the nets refuse to sleep under them."

So they don't want the nets.

"Many rural people also believe that malaria is caused not just by mosquitoes but also by other factors such as mangoes, or hard work."

Ahhh, that is why they just want assistance, use the guise of hard work causes malaria as an excuse not to work.

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Re: Intelligence!

"0) You could learn about Malaria and how

to avoid catching it from the internet."

So, how do I avoid getting malaria from the internet? If it's transmitted by wire I'm ok, I'm wireless.

:)

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Re: Intelligence!

While free wi-fi access to the info is commendable, it ignores the fact that many of these people can't afford the smartphone or computer to use the wi-fi.

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Happy

Re: "Not a saint"

My guess is that you didn't work in Cupertino.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Intelligence!

In order for that to work you'd need to be able to be literate. I think some my western brethren really need to get out a bit. Then again, judging by what I see before my eyes, it looks like some of my western brethren also could use a bit of literacy.

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Re: Intelligence!

Why the hell does it have to be one or the other. Malaria needs a vaccine \ cure. That alone will not 'remedy' everything. Ridding Africa of aids, malaria, polio etc is a part of whats needed, an important part but not the whole solution to the whole problem.

Africa needs food, clean water, an end to needless suffering, an end to ridiculous wars over money \ guns \ gods. To be fair, that kind of thing is an immediate priority. That isn't to say they don't need education, communication etc, a peaceful Africa needs a population that has something to lose beyond its life, when the general population has capital in the game, life is generally more peaceful. I don't like google, but nobody is forcing them to do this. Sure they are after money, but if its part of a bigger answer, it isn't that bad a thing. A few adverts in return for access to global news, education etc? Worse trades have happened.

Yes Bill is doing great things, yes google is after a new market and money for itself, but there is real benefit for Africans in it.

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@Roo Re: Intelligence!

I came here to say what you did, Roo, so gave you a upvote instead.

(No idea why you've received so many downvotes though, since everything you've written seems quite reasonable and correct.)

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Re: Intelligence!

There are plenty of cures for Maleria, and there has been for decades. Doxycycline would be my preference.

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Re: Intelligence!

"0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet."

Everyone knows you can't catch malaria from the internet.

You get it from sporozoite - Protection Against Malaria by Intravenous Immunization with a Nonreplicating Sporozoite Vaccine.

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Re: Intelligence!

> 0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet.

> 1) You could use the internet to ask for medical assistance.

> 2) You could use the internet to help you find the nearest clinic.

> 3) You could use the internet to discover how to treat malaria and acquire appropriate treatments.

For the love of lolcats and internets, please do a little bit research before baffling out nonsense like that. Malaria is not a cold or common fever, it kills and it's not home treatable. No internet page will give you a vaccination or treatment ideas against that.

Let me cite you something, as looking it up yourself seemed to be difficult : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaria

"

The WHO estimates that in 2010 there were 219 million cases of malaria resulting in 660,000 deaths,[79] equivalent to roughly 2000 deaths every day.[3] Using a different set of predictive models the number of documented and undocumented deaths in 2010 was estimated at 1.24 million.[80] This is up from an estimated 1.0 million deaths in 1990.

"

If those 2000 deaths per day would be avoided by common knowledge and a page of information, believe me, they wouldn't happen.

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Re: Intelligence!

"Bill Gate's is still getting blind-sided by the internet again..."

You can sit there in your nice cozy first-world seat, banging on about how the internet is empowering people with access to information. Yeah it does when people can use it and understand it.

A vast majority of people in the third-world don't have have medicine, clean water, safe place to sleep, food to eat and what's more they haven't got a damn clue when the next meal is coming from or even when! You have boys as young at 7-8 or being forced to fight with weapons they can barely lift, the girls of the same age being "trained" to be comfort women for the the troops in war-torn areas. You have all the pharmo-corps dumping out of date medical supplies that are useless to the people. Dump 20,000 cases of out of date viagra on some country that's in the grip of a cholera epidemic. What about the hoo-ha when Nestle would send out baby-formula to countries but never put the right language on the tins so people used it incorrectly and infants died? Let's not even touch basic literacy, so many people in desperate need of the basic 3 Rs that our primary school kids take for granted.

Yes people need information, yes they need education so they can get themselves out of the mess most of the countries of the west have put them in over the last few hundred years but it needs to be done face-to-face by people, where someone can ensure the information, education and aid gets right to the people who need it. We send millions in aid to foreign countries only to have some tinpot dictator nick it, spend it on doing up his palace and maybe 5% trickles down to the poor. Imagine we ship load of top-notch electronic kit out there, Xmas come early for General XYZ fo the People's Liberation Army.

Education and information are too vital to be left to chance, they must be given in a way that ensures people get it, it stays with them and allows them to stand proud on their own two feet, then and only then will they have enough of the basic human rights and needs to be able to consider using luxuries we take for granted.

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Re: Intelligence!

would you rather a vaccine instead? would you rather a vaccine developed by a charity or by a bigpharma company. If Bill can facilitate wiping out malaria, good. If google can bring the internet to people opening up chances for education, communication, work hen good. Why he either or shit, why he my charity work is better than yours crap. You aren't doing it to score treats from Betsy in the library, you are supposed to be doing it to help people.

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@ Captain Obvious/ Christopher Edwards - Re: Intelligence!

Thank you for this information.

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FAIL

Re: Intelligence!

The internet can help people conduct and grow their businesses in remote areas (ie: they can reach foreign markets, investors etc), thereby bringing prosperity to remote areas help improve the quality of life, and incidentally give them more money to spend on healthcare and education.

And infrastructure to actually get their products to or from remote markets would magically appear when there's internet?

There are ways to help these people help themselves. Internet access is not the first on that list. By far.

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Re: Intelligence!

"0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet.

1) You could use the internet to ask for medical assistance.

2) You could use the internet to help you find the nearest clinic.

3) You could use the internet to discover how to treat malaria and acquire appropriate treatments."

Roo, your comment suggests that you haven't been to any of the third world countries where, for most people, day to day survival is a bit of a challenge. Where children have any schooling, you can be sure that they and their parents are informed about how to avoid catching malaria and numerous other diseases. However, whilst the cost of a mosquito net may seem trivial to us, it may be prohibitively expensive for village folk. Anti-malarial drugs are also expensive and are often counterfeit i.e. useless and even harmful. They all know where the nearest clinic is but it may take the best part of a day to walk there and they probably won't have the money to pay for drugs or treatment.

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@RooRe: Intelligence!

I think you'll find most people in the developing world have a pretty good idea of what Maleria is and how to avoid catching it.

I'm no fan of bad boy Billy but in this one he's right. On Maslin's pyramid food, water, shelter and not dying are pretty basic needs.

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@Chrisopher Rogers

"Jobs was as big a crook."

True, and AFAIK spent every penny of his fortune on himself.

Were he still alive he'd be neck deep in the ebook price fixing charges.

Thumbs up for the observation, not the man Jobs.

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Re: Intelligence!

I believed you and now I have Malaria. :(

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Re: Intelligence!

dont forget how doctors can use it to contact clinics and map outbreaks, request aid, order meds etc.

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Re: Intelligence!

>>A whopping 20%?

A 20% reduction in infant mortality translates to a marked increase in life expectancy. The advances in life expectancy that happened in the west with the introduction of modern medicine and hygiene standards were not due to old folk suddenly living longer, but due to reduced infant mortality (and death in child birth - another major issue in the developing world).

>>Ahhh, that is why they just want assistance, use the guise of hard work causes malaria as an excuse not to work.

Ah, that explains your tone. you would appear to be a Daily Mail reading racist who thinks everyone not fortunate enough to be within the top 1% of the worlds population is some sort of workshy scrounger.

I suspect you have absolutely no concept of the gulf in income/wealth, health, education and life opportunities between the western world and the developing world. Which is a shame as unlike the majority of the worlds population, you actually have the tools and the wealth to educate yourself.

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Re: mfraz

So the subject is the hardships of the unimaginably poor and you're choosing to take a pop at Microsoft. How desperate are you?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Intelligence!

... because that fabulous internet thingy will magically teach them how to read English?

You think those people in need have the means to go to school, let alone buy a computer? Somehow, I doubt that's high on their priorities list.

That's why internet is good to a school or other assistance center, but rather pointless to individuals.

And you should learn about malaria. It's not a virus, it's a parasite. And there are no vaccines against parasites yet.

http://malarianomore.org.uk/malaria?#fighting-malaria

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Re: Intelligence!

While I see where you are coming from.

I think you don't really show much knowledge of why people are being affected by malaria and why its such a killer in poor countries.

For example

Its alright knowing what causes it but affording mosquito nets and being able to eradicate issues such as stagnant water to prevent it aren't that easy in some of these areas.

Likewise knowing that prophylactics are available is all well and good, but that's a lot of cash for someone whose poor to dose themselves with all of the time. (Plus some pretty unpleasant side effects - especially in the older type ones).

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Re: Intelligence!

Assuming that your both "poor" and "brown"... just how, and dare I ask where... Do you find the Device / Power Source required to actually get on the Web? Then there's that pseky little problem of 55% of all the known Websites being in a foreign language to your own. Or do all Africans speak English too? This is even before you take in any basic education at all into consideration.

I'm not a Billy Gates fanboi. not by a long shot, and throwing good money out with the bad on Africa IS NEVER THE ANSWER! I could care less if your name is Geldof of not! It can help the situation, but Africa also needs to change its identity too. A lot of times it stubbornly refuses to do so. Sadly history missed a tick back during the times when we had colonization. Yes you could argue about how it was a failure. I'm not saying that it wasn't! But, sometimes you have to kick some rass to get sh-- done.

In the case of Europe... We can mostly thank the Italians for that... So lets not go all soft and assume Money is a great healer. ITS NOT! Money is Money cause we accept that it has value. I saw One time how some BBC Bloke in some Documetery gave your tribal African a single Dollar Bill. The poor bloke probably thought it was only good to wipe his rear with... Not that he'd be much wrong in thinking that.

And its THIS THAT IS WRONG WITH AFRICA! Fix that, and most other things will eventually follow.

i.e. >Implying that the colonization of South Africa has done much harm.

Hell if anything it has probably made it into the single best Country on the whole of that Continent!

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Re: Intelligence! @ Phlip

Doxycycline is not a cure.

Its a prophylatic - its works to prevent you from catching it but you have to dose yourself with it all of the time when you are in a malaria infested area, Malarones another one, they can both have pretty bad side effects as well. Can't remember which ones the worst (think its Doxy) but they can be really bad, friend of mine has malaria because they ended up stopping taking the stuff because it was fucking em up so bad whilst they were on it.

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Re: Intelligence! Point 0)

You can catch malaria from teh internets?!!!

It really is a bad thing that internets.

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Re: Intelligence!

0) You could learn about Malaria and how to avoid catching it from the internet.

You could; if you could read, and someone had provided you with a computer.

1) You could use the internet to ask for medical assistance.

Where's that coming from then? Things you take for granted like the availability of medical care just don't exist in much of the developing world.

2) You could use the internet to help you find the nearest clinic.

Really? If only these stupid people would just walk down the street to their local medical centre eh?

3) You could use the internet to discover how to treat malaria and acquire appropriate treatments.

First you'd need the money to pay for the treatment; I know why don't they use the internet to set up some kind of advertising business. If they work hard, and are lucky, they might be profitable before they've died.

Crass doesn't even begin to describe your post.

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Re: Intelligence!

Well the down vote does not surprise me much.

I agree its a hard concept to work out. But, if you want to fix the African Problem... You're gonna have to get your hands dirty. Money is only a Tool that, both parties must first agree to in order that a trade can then take place. If most internal Africans have no concept of what Credit, much less what Money is. And would rather play their time out as a primitive race of simple hunters, and gatherers. Without any other care in the World. Then who am I to say its wrong?

But, then when the harvest / migration goes tits up we get pompous idiots like Geldof or Gates to point out how bad it all is. First off before we go looking for crap in far off, and slightly exotic climes. Shouldn't we fix whats wrong at home first?

I wonder how much love the Romans had during their time of Empire... Say what you will but, Europe and much of the rest of the World would be a very different place then it is today if it, weren't for them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Intelligence!

You are the idiot, Roo. They already know how to avoid catching it (e.g. don't get bit, drain stagnant waters etc). What is lacking is the resources (e.g. mosquito nets).

Malaria (which comes in different forms) can be a total bitch to cure, even where the drugs are effective they are too expensive. FYI: people can become immune to some forms of malaria through exposure (although the immunity wanes once there is no more exposure).

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19136431

If you don't know anything about a subject, don't talk about said subject.

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Anonymous Coward

You're right. We must prevent people in developing countries from accessing the internet.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Intelligence!

Google a charity - really you reckon - or maybe they want people to have net access to expand their user base and sell more ads?

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@AC 8th Aug, 20:14

You could just as well say "When you're dying of malaria, I suppose you'll look up and see adverts for the latest version of Windows, and I'm not sure how it'll help you,"

If Gates thinks that curing malaria is more important than software and the Internet, why didn't he go and get lost in Darkest Africa in the first place instead of into the software business?

The fact is that people are best employed doing what they are good at. I believe that health is the most important thing in life, but I am not a doctor because I'd be no good at it. Instead, I solve engineering problems at power stations, because I reckon I am rather good at that.

By the same token, Google should indeed stick to Googling.

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Headmaster

Re: Intelligence!

I think you'll have a hard time finding a cure for "maleria".

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